Social Media and Mental Health: 9 Ways to Make Social Media Better for Your Mental Health

Social Media and Mental Health: 9 Ways to Make Social Media Better for Your Mental Health

One of many worst elements of writing about psychological well being for a residing is how usually therapists inform me I would like to chop again on social media. As a result of, frankly, I’m not going to chop again on social media anytime quickly. Like, sure, I do know social media and psychological well being have a contentious relationship, and I perceive why they recommend it and know deep down that I’d be higher off if I may free myself from the grips of social media and but. And but.

What I’ve discovered over time, although, is that it nonetheless is a worthy endeavor to determine the best way to make social media be just right for you. For those who’re not going to make use of it much less, there are nonetheless methods you should use it higher. With that in thoughts, listed below are some ideas that really work for me, each from therapists I’ve interviewed and thru my very own trial and error.

1. Slim down which social media apps you utilize.

I do know I’m not the one one who can get caught in a hellish, countless loop of switching between Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Fb. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Even when I don’t like Fb (significantly, who nonetheless likes Fb?), I usually wind up there as a result of once I run out of issues to scroll by way of on my most well-liked apps, I’m like, “Guess I’ll see what these youngsters I went to highschool with are as much as.”

So even when you already know your self sufficient to know you’ll by no means go on a social media cleanse, take into account taking a smaller step by slicing again on the apps you don’t genuinely get pleasure from. I haven’t gotten myself to totally deactivate Fb but, however I’ve realized within the very least, I positive as hell don’t want the app on my cellphone to mindlessly scroll by way of.

2. Really remark and reply (properly).

It’s such a small factor, however in the event you’re something like me, you spend much more time passively liking posts than you do commenting on them or replying to them. Therapist Jor-El Caraballo, L.M.H.C., beforehand advised me that one factor he’s dedicated to doing just lately goes out of his approach to depart constructive feedback when he’s on Instagram, resembling telling an artist he likes he digs their work. Similar goes for gassing up your mates. Both manner, a praise right here and a little bit of engagement there would possibly make the entire expertise a bit extra constructive.

As a result of reminder: Doing good issues for others is a stable approach to enhance your personal psychological well being and happiness, and despite the fact that a pleasant remark might sound small, you most likely know what a pleasant little pick-me-up an enthusiastic touch upon a pic might be.

three. Curate smaller lists (or create an alt account).

Oftentimes, my social media feeds—particularly Twitter—give me whiplash. You by no means know what you’ll run into as you scroll. Humorous joke! Devastating political replace! COVID-19 fearmongering! Cute animal vid! Sizzling selfie from that individual I thirst-followed! Somebody RT’ing Donald Trump’s tweets onto my timeline once more for some purpose! And many others. and so forth. and so forth.

In loads of methods, that’s sort of what you’re signing up for when utilizing social media. However there are occasions once I don’t wish to danger making my temper worse by spinning the roulette wheel, and for these occasions, smaller lists provide you with management over your expertise. For those who didn’t know, Twitter has a lists characteristic that means that you can curate teams of accounts in a single place to scroll by way of. You should utilize this strategically to, say, have an inventory of healthful meme accounts and cute animals to get pleasure from while you don’t have the abdomen to peruse your essential timeline. Equally, some folks have complete separate accounts the place they solely observe feel-good accounts.

four. Flip off push notifications.

This works for each disengaging from probably worrying information and serving to your self be much less tied up in feedback, likes, and different engagement. For those who discover that you simply’re somebody who posts one thing after which anxiously waits to see the way it performs, I’ve discovered that I can prepare myself to ease up on that conduct by slicing it off on the supply. As an alternative of ready for notifications to roll in once I publish a pic or joke that I hope will do numbers, I shut the app and examine it later. Don’t get me fallacious, it’s exhausting at first (I really like validation!), however ultimately it will get simpler.

You may as well use push notifications strategically. Like in the event you’re ready for sure information and know that, left to your personal units, you’d hold opening and shutting the app till it got here by way of, turning on push notifications for sure accounts can be a helpful approach to disconnect. It offers you a little bit peace of thoughts realizing that if one thing occurs or if somebody vital posts, the information will discover you.

5. Cease hate-following.

Does this should be stated in 2020? Apparently so! Hate-following can take many kinds, from following contentious public figures to remain “knowledgeable” to following that picture-perfect life-style influencer whose pics make you are feeling horrible each time you scroll previous them. Similar goes for private or skilled “rivals” you’re at all times evaluating your self to and even simply these horrible folks out of your hometown who you keep Fb mates with so you possibly can see what bizarre conspiracy principle they’ll rant about subsequent.

“However,” you argue, and I’ve argued prior to now, “is it actually that dangerous if it makes me giggle (or motivates me or offers me schadenfreude or no matter)?” Nicely, no, however is that what’s truly occurring? It’s value checking in with your self about how you are feeling when these folks pop up in your feed; even in the event you them for one purpose, you would possibly discover they make you are feeling irritated, unhappy, insecure, or any variety of different feelings as a substitute. If that’s true, time to unfollow and unfriend, my mates.

6. Mute liberally too.

And right here’s a softer choice for extra nuanced conditions. If the folks you don’t wish to see in your feeds anymore are mates, household, or coworkers, unfollowing and unfriending won’t be a press release you wish to make. Don’t get me fallacious, I discover it sort of foolish these strikes might be so loaded, however hear, that’s the world loads of us dwell in nowadays.

And in case it is advisable to hear it, it’s completely okay to want to do that, even to folks you actually care about! There are a ton of legitimate explanation why you would possibly wish to restrict your social media publicity to sure folks. Possibly you’re having a tough time and seeing a ton of posts about how a lot your finest good friend is flourishing makes you are feeling resentful in methods you don’t wish to. Or possibly somebody you like IRL simply has an annoying social media presence. It occurs. So don’t really feel responsible—muting doesn’t damage anybody and you’ll at all times exit of your approach to make amends for their account while you’re in an excellent headspace to be sure to don’t miss something vital.

7. Observe a bunch of recent accounts too.

Whereas I do away with loads of trash on my timeline through the final two ideas, it’s sometimes good to only…exit of my approach to hunt down and observe cool new folks! Usually I observe new accounts fairly passively—a humorous joke will get retweeted onto my timeline and I click on by way of to the unique account, or a good friend sends me some Instagram publish and I observe the individual whereas I test it out.

However what enjoyable is that? There are loads of lists on the market of cool accounts to observe relying in your pursuits, and platforms like Instagram and TikTok make it straightforward to find new accounts through your Discover and For You Web page, respectively. We now have a couple of roundups right here at SELF that you simply would possibly like too, like this one among cat Instagrams, these Black psychological well being sources that embrace a ton of accounts to observe, or these body-positive influencers.

eight. Set smaller boundaries round use.

Okay, I do know I promised I wouldn’t let you know to make use of social media much less, however a part of adjusting your social media for psychological well being does embrace boundaries. And a few of these boundaries would possibly result in you slicing again in your use. However they don’t need to! Over time, therapists have given me loads of ideas round the best way to set social media boundaries, and so they just about fall into the next buckets: 

  • Time boundaries: This will imply placing closing dates on your self for the way a lot complete time you spend on social media per day, or it could actually additionally seem like deciding when your designated “social media time” is, like throughout your lunch break or after work hours. Equally, you would possibly set a common rule that you simply received’t examine social media till after breakfast or no matter. Your smartphone may need screen-time monitoring capabilities that can assist you with these boundaries, and this record of apps contains distraction-blocking apps that might turn out to be useful too.

  • House boundaries: This usually boils down to creating sure locations off-limits to social media, resembling your mattress or the dinner desk. (You may as well do the alternative by deciding that you simply’ll solely use social media in sure areas, however that tends to be extra restrictive.)

  • Content material boundaries: Lastly, boundaries round what social media you utilize and the way you utilize it could actually positively enhance your expertise. We touched on this within the different ideas, relating to slicing down on which apps you utilize and curating who you observe. However you possibly can set different content-related guidelines too, like deciding you’re not going to make use of social media as your essential supply of stories.

9. On the whole, simply goal to be extra intentional.

Intentionality comes up time and again once I discuss to therapists about social media (and most issues, TBH). Once we do issues on autopilot, we’re not the most effective at selecting actions that make us really feel good and we don’t at all times discover when actions are making us really feel dangerous. I do know that the mindlessness of social media might be a part of its attract, particularly throughout these occasions once we’re so mentally overloaded with every little thing else occurring, however you might be intentional in small methods, and it could actually make social media extra pleasing general.

What does that seem like, precisely? You can begin by asking your self, “Why do I exploit social media?” Not in an existential sense or something, however to develop into extra conscious of what you’re hoping to get out of those apps. For those who’ve ever, say, closed Twitter in your desktop browser, solely to open up the app in your cellphone with out which means to a second later, you know that generally we solely use social media as a result of it’s automated, not as a result of we truly wish to.

So determine what your targets are—and people targets might be small or foolish, like laughing at memes or feeling marginally linked to different folks whilst you dwell alone or to, sure, get little buzzes of validation when somebody likes your publish. With intentional motivation as your North Star, it makes it quite a bit simpler to pause sometimes and ask your self, “Wait, is that this what I wish to be doing?” and adjusting accordingly. As a result of generally the reply is “No, no, it’s not.”


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